Michael Duff highlights importance of set-pieces after Cheltenham beat Walsall
Cheltenham manager Michael Duff praised his set-piece specialists after they helped to secure a 3-0 home win over Walsall.
Skipper Ben Tozer’s long throw led to the opener early in the second half before a Chris Hussey free-kick created the final goal which killed off any chance of a fightback.
Duff said: “Set-pieces are always important, not just in this league.
“In the two games we’ve lost recently, we conceded from corners. For all our good play last week against Carlisle, we get our noses in front from two set plays.
“It wasn’t a 3-0 game, definitely, but set-pieces can get you ahead and then the game changes once you go 1-0 up.
“They banked us in and we weren’t physical enough with them in the first half, which is basically what I told them at half-time.
“We looked like conceding every time the ball came in our box, which is unlike us. If you compare that to the second half, I didn’t feel they were going to score from any set play.
“I don’t think Walsall had been beaten away from home, so we knew they’d be a tough nut to crack and that’s exactly what they proved to be.”
Both sides were denied by the woodwork in the opening half, with Cheltenham’s Andy Williams sending his header against a post in the 22nd minute before Jake Scrimshaw drilled a shot against the underside of the bar three minutes before the break.
The visitors also had a penalty shout waved away when Liam Kinsella appeared to be tripped.
The breakthrough came in the 50th minute when Dan Scarr headed Tozer’s long throw into his own net, with Matty Blair doubling the advantage with a fierce drive eight minutes later.
Hussey’s free-kick in the 89th minute allowed Tozer to cap an impressive display when he poked the ball past the stranded Walsall keeper, despite the visitors calling for the offside flag.
Frustrated Walsall boss Darrell Clarke said he could not explain his side’s dismal second-half showing.
He said: “We were in the ascendency in the first half – should have had a pen, hit the crossbar and the ball was going past their goal quite regularly without going in the net which is the story of our season so far.
“Then in the second half we’ve given them a long throw goal that we’ve worked on all week. We looked soft after that and never really got going.
“I have been a manager for 10 years and this group of players is the most frustrating group I’ve managed. We look right on top and in the ascendancy but then we don’t score and give cheap goals away. It is a recipe for disaster.”